Ex-Manchester City and Barcelona coach highly-critical of Celtic

By David Walton

January 17, 2021

Former Manchester City and Barcelona coach Raymond Verheijen has given his two cents worth on the recent Celtic jaunt to Dubai.

The Hoops, Scotland’s biggest club, set a poor example a fornight ago when they headed off to the UAE. The idea being that it was for vital warm-weather training.

However, a positive Covid case for Christopher Jullien led to 14 players needing to miss out recent matches against Hibernian and Livingston respectively. Manager Neil Lennon and assistant John Kennedy are also self-isolating.

But the decision has had a big effect both on and off the pitch with the Scottish Government already voicing their concerns. And Verheijen, who’s worked under the likes of Gus Hiddink with the Netherlands, has given his view on the Hoops.

As quoted by the Scottish Sun, Verheijen said: “For a big club like Celtic to do this, first of all, is not very smart from their own perspective. Because you are gambling with nature and risking what eventually happened. That was their football problem.

“But from a society perspective what they’ve done is even worse, because all the people in their country are told to stick to rules to make sure the wave goes down. You, as a major football club, are in a role-model position. They will probably say, ‘Yeah, but based on the rules we were allowed to fly’.

Ex-Barcelona coach Verheijen has a point; but Celtic didn’t do anything illegal

We’ve all scrutinised the trip to Dubai to death. We know why it was wrong and why it was irresponsible of the club.

Verheijen makes some good points here too. It doesn’t set a great example and doesn’t put the club in a favourable light. In fact, it flat out damages the club’s reputation pretty badly. The fact that someone like Verheijen is even commenting on it is proof of that alone.

But at the same time, it’s important to know where the line needs to be drawn. It’s dangerous to make the point of “what if the whole population do what you did”. Football clubs were told that they could go abroad for these kinds of training camps. It was part of the rules.

Neil Lennon at Glasgow Airport ahead of the Celtic Dubai trip / (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

That’s not the case for the general public. Yes, that rule can easily be abused, but it’s not down to Celtic to think “what if everyone came to Dubai?”. Because not everyone is allowed to go abroad.

The morals behind the move have been debated for two weeks now. We’ve all given our verdict on it and come to the general consensus that the club was in the wrong. But only morally. There’s been no legal wrongdoing that needs investigating.

If we all went to Dubai, we’d likely be pulled up at the airport. Mainly because we’re not allowed to go. So it’s not down to Celtic tot hink like that in all fairness to them. Even so, nothing will defend the ridiculous UAE journey, and nothing ever will.

In other news, this Rodgers signing has made his first start since 2019 away from Celtic.